Recreational shooting, or rec shooting, can mean many things to different people. This type of shooting is typically done with friends or family members, but some people certainly spend time at the range alone as well. Rec shooting activities can include, but are not limited to; clay target shooting with a shotgun, plinking with a .22 rimfire rifle, general target shooting at the handgun range, shooting games or informal contests. The beauty of rec shooting is that you can have fun, while also honing your skills with a firearm.
One of the first things you’ll need to do is find a place where you can go recreational shooting. Your options include indoor shooting ranges, outdoor shooting ranges, private property where the landowner will allow you to shoot recreationally, or public land where recreational shooting is permitted. If you are a new shooter, you’ll want to prepare for the experience by reviewing the universal firearm safety rules and engaging in some “off-range” general instruction. This is where you can review the firearms you’ll be shooting in detail and learn the safety features and general operation. You can also practice aiming, getting used to the sights and feel of the firearm.
If you decide to visit an indoor or managed outdoor range, call a few days before you plan to arrive. Let them know you’re a new shooter and ask if there are any special times or days better suited for newcomers. Some ranges will have range safety officers or instructors on hand during certain times who are highly skilled at making an introductory shooting experience safe and enjoyable for patrons. You may also find there are special rates on range-time or firearm rentals for new shooters. Many gun stores (dealers/retailers) also have shooting ranges as part of their business. In many instances, people are allowed to try new firearms at the range before making a purchase. Both indoor and outdoor ranges have their advantages. Indoor ranges offer shelter from the elements (weather), they are climate controlled, and shooting hours aren’t limited by daylight. Indoor ranges are also often more conveniently located for those in large urban or suburban areas.
Outdoor shooting ranges tend to be away from or on the edges of big cities, thereby allowing users to get fresh air and sun while shooting recreationally. You also get the benefit of shooting in a range of temperatures and light conditions, which sets up more realistic shooting conditions than the windless indoor ranges with uniform lighting. Outdoor ranges also allow shooters to engage targets at longer ranges. Some have rifle ranges several hundred yards long. And, of course, you can shoot clay targets with a shotgun on well-designed shooting ranges in the great outdoors.
There are two key, inexpensive pieces of equipment all shooters need to use on every shooting range, both indoor and outdoor. They are eye protection in the form of shooting glasses, and ear protection in the form of earplugs, earmuffs, or both. You’ll often hear these referred to as “eyes and ears” at many ranges. Eye and ear protection are critical pieces of equipment needed to operate a firearm safely, so don’t neglect them. Most retailers that sell firearms, ammunition and accessories, will carry shooting glasses and ear protection both offered at various price ranges.
As someone new to the shooting sports and recreational shooting, there are many resources to explore and research. Take your time, learn, ask questions, review the universal firearm safety rules … and have fun!